Explosion. Smoke. Dust flying, burnt textbook pages scattered throughout the air, singed quills and parchment. Laughter. And then running.
"Take a left here!" James yelled as him, Sirius, Remus, and Peter took a sharp turn and continued sprinting down the corridors. Filch hollered after them, running with a slight limp after them while coughing from the debris in the air surrounding him.
A few corridors later, Sirius and Remus lay themselves in an empty classroom, panting, while James, still heavily breathing, pulled a piece of parchment from his back jean pocket.
He pointed his wand at it and muttered, "I solemnly swear that I'm up to no good", only for the words The Marauder's Map toreveal itself in scripted, curvy handwriting on the front of it. After flipping it open, James scanned his eyes over it briskly, said the counter curse, and thrust it back into his pocket.
"Well, Filch is in the dungeons right now. I'm assuming that last right down the east wing threw him off, though I reckon we've got some time until he even comes to this floor." He trudged to a chair and fell back in it, smiling as a bead of sweat dripped down the side of his face. "Well, mates, I'd say that was a nice prank. Though we still need one more to end off our years here – and it has to be big."
Peter leaned against the wall and slid down, his back against it, until he sat on the floor. "Last time I ran that much was when Sirius and I were caught trying to steal Carolina McCoy's knickers."
Sirius let out a low whistle. "That was way back in fifth year. Seems like yesterday." He mused, flicking a piece of his dark, wavy hair out of his grey eyes. He sighed. "Time sure flies, Wormy. I think I need a butterbeer."
"Oh no you don't." Remus said, tapping his watch. "We've got precisely two hours until the dance, and that is not enough time for you to get drunk and sober up quickly enough."
Sirius whined and stomped his foot childishly while James ran a hand through his hair, musing up the back of it. "Ah, blimey, Lily and I have got to get to the dance early, being the heads and all. I suppose I should leave now." He murmured casually, pushing his legs up off the ground and beginning to head towards the door.
"Merlin forbid we keep Lily darling waiting." Sirius sniggered, and him and Remus and Peter went into a rendition of the Beatles, "And I love her."
"Oh, quiet up, you three." James mumbled in irritation, a blush creeping up on his nose.
I studied my appearance in the mirror, smiling, despite my obvious happiness that I already showed, no doubt. Green, I had decided, would be the color of my dress, for through my seven years here I had refused to wear it, declaring the idea to be too cliché because of my eyes. But really, I was just being stupid, noticing how nicely it fit me now.
My pale, slightly freckled skin seemed porcelain under the green silk that adorned my body. Two thin straps, a plunging neck line, open back, and emerald colored material that flow gracefully from my waist to the ground. Golden hoop earrings. The locket. Soft, curly hair. Light pink blush and lip tint. Perfect.
"God, you're gorgeous." I heard a voice say from behind me, and I turned to the enterance to my Head's dorm, spotting James. Black dress robes. A green, silk tie that matched the color of my dress. A rose corsage he twirled absentmindedly in his hands. And it was even more perfect.
"And you look quite handsome yourself." I giggled as he slipped into the room, making his way over to me and lightly picking up my hand.
"Miss Evans." He said, and I smiled as he delicately kissed it before sliding the corsage onto my wrist. I inhaled and sighed – cologne. Quidditch. Beauty.
"Would you please allow me to escort you, Princess, to the Great Hall?" He extended and arm to me, and I put my own in it.
"I would be glad to." And then he leaned down and kissed the side of my forehead, and we descended the staircase and made our way to the Great Hall.
"Oh, lovely! You two are here, right on time." McGonagall said as soon as we entered the Great Hall. The ceiling was dimly lit with candles, and the nighttime sky was black, except for the millions of stars that were scattered beautifully through the darkness of the black. Silver, midnight blue, and dark purple cloths hung from the walls and covered the tables, and a giant Eiffel tower rested in the corner, made from streams of grey and metallic magic that were fashioned to represent it. The sight was perfect.
Perfect, perfect, perfect.
I needed to expand my vocabulary.
"So, the band is all set up, the food is all prepared, and the dance floor is ready for dancing. Let me give you a run-down of the night, now. Albus?" The Headmaster nodded and put a hand on James shoulder, pulling him in one direction, while McGonagall pressed a hand on my back and guided me in a different one. I glanced briefly over my shoulder and gave James a nervous smile, one that he returned with a slightly sheepish one.
"The night will start with greetings and mingling at seven, and at eight I expect everyone to be seated and eating. After the food, the dance floor will be open, and at nine, you and James will announce the King and Queen of the dance. Voting will be taking place right next to the drink section until quarter of, which is when we will start counting them. Clear?" Before I even had time to respond, McGonagall said, "Good." And was ushering me towards the Headmaster, who had just sent James to go and talk to the band about the playlist.
"Ah, Miss Evans, you look exquisite." Dumbledore said, his eyes twinkling behind his half-moon spectacles. My cheeks reddened as I thanked him coyly, and soon he was speaking to me about the dance in a tone quite a lot bit calmer than McGonagall's had been.
"Forgive Minerva, she's just a little distraught that there's only a few weeks left until the end of the year. Your class has been her favorite, I believe." I didn't even bother to hide my disbelief as I gaped as him.
"P-Professor? With all due respect, I think we're her least favorite class, with the Marauders and Snape and I bickering all the time and Mulciber and Lucius' leaving Hogwarts to become death eaters and the record breaking number of detentions Gryffindor has ever seen and – "
Dumbledore just smiled down at me and nodded. "Yes. You have grown on her. You will all be missed, greatly, I assure you."
Crazy old man.
After another brief run-through of the events of the night, the students started arriving, and I was dismissed and allowed to go meet with my friends, who were giggling happily with their dates.
Violet, wearing a long, tight, violet dress (the irony), glittered under the dim lights as she clung to Sirius' arm – their first public outing. And I'm sure she was not letdown.
Macy, a light blue, princess ball-gown draping over her petite frame, her wavy blonde hair pinned up, and a blush resting on her cheeks as she stood next to a tall seventh year Hufflepuff who she had agreed to go with.
Alice, a cherry red and black, kimono style dress hugging her curvy body, a smile on her lips as she and Frank intertwined their hands together, happy to have made up and be together again.
And Remus and Peter, who were both standing quite single, though they, too, wore bright smiles and shared laughter with the others in a manner quite similar to the way they had before the year's drama unfolded, much like the compartment on the train that they had been in a few months ago. It may as well been a few years ago.
"Beautiful, all you ladies look." Remus said, his eyes grazing over the group, his eyes resting a little bit longer on Macy, who looked down and bit her lip.
Violet threw her dark, long hair over her shoulder and said, "Well, of course you lot look quite dashing, too."
"Though I look the best." James said, stepping into the group next to me seemingly out of nowhere. He threw an arm around my shoulder. "Plus, I've got the prettiest date here."
The girls cooed (including Peter), Remus laughed, Frank scoffed, and Sirius pretended to throw up in his mouth. All was normal. Except for the tall Hufflepuff that really did not seem to fit in at all.
"Ever since you two started sleeping together, Prongs has been whipped to the bone. A bit embarrassing, I'd say, mate." Sirius said, and I turned my face away from him to hide my blush. James coughed awkwardly and the rest of the group laughed (Sirius really wasn't that funny, bloody prick.)
"Everyone, please sit,! Yes, good!" Slughorn called from the chaperone's table as the crowd of students went to find their seats. As no surprise, James and I were seated with Sirius and Violet, Alice and Frank, and Peter and Remus. Macy and her what's-his-name Hufflepuff friend were seated at a different table.
The conversation took off, and they were laughing once again and bickering about politics and religion and stupid things, but Remus sat glumly on the end of the table, pushing around his steak and tiredly chewing as his eyes frequently flickered to Macy.
"I feel so bad for Moony." James whispered in my ear while I sipped from my goblet. "He's hopelessly in love with her, you know."
"And she's still in love with him, too." I sighed, "I would do just about anything to get those two to make up already." I placed my goblet down, my eyes wandering to Macy, who gave the Hufflepuff a half-hearted smile as he asked her to go up and dance with him. I checked the time – eight thirty.
"Come on." I pushed my chair back and addressed the table. "The dancing's going to start any minute." Just as the words left my mouth, a loud, blaring, rock tune sounded from the stage the band was on, and James was tugging me to the dance floor with the rest of the group not too far behind us.
And we danced. Man, we danced. We sang along to lyrics we didn't know, making up our own, danced like the fools we were, creating dance moves that surely didn't exist, for the dancer would look stupid doing it, but we didn't care – we were having fun. I smiled up at James, who smiled back down at me, and shouted the final words of the playing song into the air.
A half hour passed quickly, and soon James' hand was in my own, and he pushed me towards the microphone.
"Hello, everyone!" I gave a light wave, and a few people waved back at me. I cleared my throat. "I'm glad you could all make it tonight. Are you having fun?" The obnoxious cheers and clapping confirmed the question.
"Brilliant." I smiled, and Dumbledore handed a sealed envelope to James, who graciously accepted it from him.
"Well, as you all know, the next event of the night is announcing the King and Queen of the ball, which we have enclosed in this little envelope right here." James said, motioning to the paper in his hands.
"Open it!" Someone screamed from the sea of students that had gathered around the small stage we were on, and after another small applause, James laughed and handed me the letter.
"Would you do the honors?" I nodded, and my finger broke through the thin white envelope with ease. The paper, simply a small slip of spare parchment, had just two names scribbled down on it in neat, black ink, and my heart seemed to stop beating all together as I read the names:
James Potter and Lily Evans.
I stared at it in disbelief, and James raised an eyebrow at me before peering down over my shoulder and reading it.
"Ah," He said softly, enclosing his hand around my own, which clutched the parchment. "No surprise here – And the King and Queen are, Remus Lupin and Macy Hussey!"
I whipped my head to look up at him, just as two spotlights were sent on the two unsuspecting students. Remus, who had previously been slouching in the corner of the Great Hall, straightened up as he confusedly stared at James, who was beaming down at him. Macy, who was with the Hufflepuff what's-his-face, and whose cheeks were bright red, blinked rapidly.
"Well, come on then, don't be shy!" James said, and I finally managed a smile at the crowd, ignoring my own confusion as I allowed whatever James was trying to do play out. The two of them came up onto the stage, and a small tiara was placed on Macy's head, a golden crown on Remus'.
Courteous applause erupted from the crowd, and the band began to play a dramatically slower, softer tune from the previous music of the night. "Come on, kiddies." James ushered them to the dance floor, and Remus looked like he was going to pass out as he faced Macy, who looked like she was about to cry.
Oh Merlin, James, what did you do?
The lights dimmed again, and Remus politely grabbed Macy's hand, placing his other on her waist, and began to rotate, albeit awkwardly. Macy finally gave in, placing her own hand on his shoulder, and other couples began to pair off and dance around them. I felt James' hand, which was still in mine, lead me down the steps of the stage, and soon we had begun to dance with the other pairs around us.
I couldn't help but angrily glare up at him. "James, why did you do that? Remus and Macy look so awkward right now." I snapped, annoyed with him. He rolled his eyes.
"Don't be dramatic, Lily. Look – they're talking." He pointed his chin in the direction of them, and, somehow, they were exchanging words. Civil words, with no fighting, and…did Macy just laugh?
"I know what I'm doing, Lily. Sometimes you just need to trust me." I looked back up at him, and he was giving me an arrogant smirk. Just like old times.
"And, I think I've had just enough attention to last a lifetime." He admitted, shrugging his shoulders, and I realized right there, right then, that the thing I thought would have never happened just a year ago, happened. James Potter matured.
He grew up.
He was everything I wanted him to be, but was still himself. He was still teasing, bickering, handsome. He was still James.
He was perfect.
Perfect, perfect, perfect.
I would never get tired of that word.
"Can you just tell me one thing?" Macy said quietly as she and Remus spun around on the dance floor, just as they did back in December. It couldn't have seemed longer ago, that night when they blushed at each other, shyly, unsurely, harboring mere crushes for each other. Remus nodded.
"Why?" She asked simply, and he pondered for a moment.
Remus John Lupin was not a very brave person. He was never very brave, yet somehow he had been sorted into Gryffindor, along with people like James and Sirius and Lily, who were so sure of themselves and had enough confidence for the entire school. He was always questioning himself – always wondering if he was good enough. Good enough for Gryffindor, good enough for bravery, good enough for Macy, even though he was a werewolf.
Remus John Lupin was not a very brave person. But now would be that defining moment when he would change that.
"Macy Jamielynn Rebecca Cassandra Hussey." He murmured quietly, and she blushed, for the last time she spoke her full name, he had kissed her, and she wondered if he was going to do it again.
"I started ignoring you because you're too good for me, and…when, well, when you love someone, you want what's best for them, and I am certainly not what's best for you." But the rest of his dialogue, she did not hear, for she had stopped dancing and listening and breathing when he had uttered the words, "When you love someone…"
"You l-love me." She repeated, blinking up at him blankly. Remus cringed.
"Please don't yell at me again."
"You love me." She said once more, still not quite believing the words herself. Remus sighed.
"I'm sorry, Macy. I should have told you earlier, I just, well, I didn't know how to, and – " And this time, Macy flung herself at him, and her lips were on his own in a matter of seconds, and they revolved on the spot, the conflict solved and the night upon them.
"Lily? Ugh, fine. Prongs!"
Sirius, neither of us are responding, we're a little busy…
"What?" James finally snapped, throwing open the door to the broom cupboard that we were in. I angrily crossed my arms over my chest, huffing as I fixed my hair. Geez, Sirius, why don't you try cock-blocking just a little bit harder next time…
"Cool that fire, Prongs. Look, the gang is ditching the dance and heading out for a last midnight swim in the lake. I thought you'd be interested in being included, that's all." Sirius started to walk away, and I laughed as James called after him.
"Fine, fine, when?" He asked, and Sirius waved over his shoulder.
"Twenty minutes to be changed and at the lake, starting now. Better hop to it, you two."
As soon as Sirius turned down the next hallway, James looked back at me. "Interested in going?"
"Of course I am!" I hopped up, brushed off my dress, and linked my arm in his. "Let's go!"
James groaned. "Can't we finish up here first…?"
I swatted his arm, "No, you prat. Come on."
Soon, we were up in the Head's dorms, me in my bathing suit and a blue cover-up, James in his swim trousers and a plain white tee-shirt. Huddled under the invisibility cloak, we made our way through the corridors and out the enterance to the castle, the hot, sticky, humid are brushing on our skin as we tore the cloak off ourselves and began walking down towards the lake.
Violet, Sirius, and Frank were already there, meaning that Remus and Macy (who had spent the rest of the night snogging until McGonagall kicked them out for inappropriate behavior) and Peter and Alice were still on their way.
"Well, what're you lot waiting around for?" James ripped off his shirt and started running to the black lake, jumping into it with a loud crashing sound. Sirius grinned and jumped in after him, while Frank decided to go for an even stupider approach, settling on, instead, climbing a tree and jumping off one of the various limbs and into the lake.
"Ah, don't you love swim suit season?" Violet said, diving gracefully into the water in her white, string bikini. I laughed and shook my head before peeling off my own blue cover up, sporting my own black one, which contrasted violently with my pale skin, and lowered myself into the water until I was completely under it.
When I reemerged, Macy and Remus were present, and they decided just to splash around in the shallow area of the water while when Alice came, she jumped head first into the lake, and Peter belly flopped from one of the lower tree branches, causing a good laugh out of us all.
"Gotta love Wormtail, yeah?" James said, appearing next to me and laughing when Peter dragged himself onto the grass, a giant, red welt on his stomach from where it came in contact with the water. I giggled and nodded.
"He's cute. Way cuter than my ugly boyfriend." He whined in protest, and I smiled and placed a chaste kiss on the top of his nose.
"I'm only kidding, James. You need to learn to joke around a little." I poked him in the shoulder, and he poked me back.
"Or maybe I need to find a new girlfriend." He bantered back, poking me still until his hands were all of my body, tickling me, and I shrieked with laughter and squirmed hopelessly in his arms, kicking the water around me.
"S-Stop!" I screeched, and he only laughed further as he threw me over his shoulder instead.
"Nope." He said while carrying me out of the lake, laying me on the soft grass once we reached level ground. He peered down at me, the moon lighting my face, my hair in a crazy mess on the greenery surrounding my head, my skin glistening from the water in the black lake.
"You're really quite beautiful, you know." He said after a moment, and I placed my hand on the back of his neck, pulling him down to meet his lips with my own. He smiled and lay down next to me, softly stroking the length of my arm as we enveloped each other, stopping to exchange giggles and soft laughter and hushed whispers in between kisses of innocence and flawlessness.
"Never have I eveeerrr…" Sirius drawled out from a short distance away, stroking his chin thoughtfully until he snapped his fingers, "streaked in front of anyone over forty!"
"Implying you have streaked before." Alice shook her head while Peter put one of his fingers down. Sirius wriggled his eyebrows suggestively.
"James, Lily, are you playing?" Violet called from over her shoulder as the rest of the group sat in a circle on the grass, dripping from the water. I nodded and crawled over to them, James doing the same.
"Okay, never have I ever told someone I've hated them." Remus said slowly, and I slowly put one of my own fingers down. James chuckled next to me and shook his head.
"Sorry." I apologized quickly, and he just grinned at me.
"It's alright. I always knew you'd figure out how bad you wanted me eventually." I shoved his shoulder and stuck my tongue out at him.
"Fine. I take my apology back."
"Never have I ever," Macy began, "drank more than three shots of fire whisky in a row."
"Guilty." Sirius said, winking, as he put down another one of his fingers, along with James and Peter and Violet.
"Okay, never have I ever…lost a game of never have I ever." I said lamely, and everyone laughed and put down a finger, minus Macy.
James' turn. "Never have I ever…eaten mashed potatoes." He shook his head. "I just can't do it, they look gross."
And then Sirius threw a piece of grass at him. "That was awful, Prongs." And James took the challenge and jumped on Sirius, tackling him and pinning him to ground before the two of them rolled on top of each other, wrestling and laughing. Remus and Peter rolled their eyes, for I'm sure they had witnessed this countless times before, and went swimming again with Violet and I. an hour or so later, we all agreed to part our ways, for the end of the dance was approaching and when people started to file out, surely our absences would be noticed.
"Ugh, I hate lake water." I said as I trudged up to the Head's dorms with James, running a hand through my hair. "It's gross."
"Yeah, I'm not gonna lie, it really is." He agreed, and together we entered the common room of the Head's dorms. I started up my staircase.
"Well I'm beat, and fancy a nice, long, hot shower." I started trotting up the staircase when a sudden thought hit me. A memory replayed in my head, and I grinned mischievously before turning around again and propping a hip out.
"Care to join me?"
James, who has been beginning to ascend his own staircase, did a double-take; he stared at me for a second, and just as the familiarity of the words hit his mind, he smiled devilishly and came after me as I ran up the stairs, giggling crazily.
Green. Brown. Light blue. Dark blue. Grey. More green. More brown.
I counted the colors in James' eyes as the morning sun shone in from my window on us. His hand, which was thrown around my waist, loosely clutched the white material on my back as I breathed him in. We watched each other. Just watched. Listened to each other's heartbeats. Smelt each other's scents. Felt each other's bodies. We had figured out a sort of harmony between us – a rhythmic pattern between us that we had perfected the first time we were together. A rhythmic pattern that I seemed to know my whole life.
"Nine." His eyebrow shot up, and I threaded one of my hands through his dark, messy hair. "Nine different shades of colors in your eyes."
He stared back at me, and then he moved forward, nuzzling his head into my neck, the tips of his hair barely brushing the underside of my chin. I giggled as his nose tickled my chest.
"I love you."
His lips ghosted the words across my skin, and I felt my heart soar as my hand absentmindedly intertwined with his own. The next words I said were the most natural, faultless, easiest words that have ever left my mouth.
"I love you too."
"I do have a lot of things I need to do before I finish Grad school." Violet mused, shoving her hands in her jean shorts pockets. "I guess it's sort of like a bucket list of things I want accomplished before I'm twenty one." Sirius nodded and hummed in respond, his arm thrown over her shoulder as they walked.
"I don't suppose you know it off the top of your head?" She blushed and nodded, and Sirius laughed in response. "Of course you do. Mind if I hear it?"
"Well…if you really want to." She began to mentally list things off, counting with her fingers. "Well first, I want to pass Grad school with flying colors."
"I want to have a well-secured job."
"A nice house."
"I'm sure it'll be very nice, indeed."
"And a nice family."
"A nice family, sounds gre…uh, hold on, what?"
Violet blushed even harder than she had before and nodded enthusiastically. "Yes. A husband. And a family. A few kids; my own, obviously. Wouldn't it be grand?" She exhaled dreamily, her long, dark hair flying around her as they walked through the corridors. Sirius scratched the back of his head unsurely.
Violet looked up at him from under her dark eyelashes. "You stuttered."
"I apologize, Miss Tatum." He finished suavely, mentally cursing himself for the small slipup. Violet stopped walking, for at this point they were almost in front of the Gryffindor common room enterance.
"You don't want a family?" She asked suddenly, one of her slim arms propped on her hip. Sirius shrugged his shoulder.
"I dunno, I don't think that, perhaps, now is the time to think about it…" He rambled, lightly waving it off with a hand in the air. Violet stopped him.
"You're not thinking about your family? Your future? Especially with," her voice quieted to a whisper, "You-know-who and his followers rising to power?"
"You don't think I'm thinking about that?" Sirius hissed. "Of course I am. Half my family makes up his followers, 'Lette. I just don't want one." He said, removing his hand from her shoulder and crossing it coldly with his other arm over his chest. "What's the point of having a family if all that stuff's going on anyway, especially with the lingering possibility that they'll grow up and betray you anyway? What's the point?" he repeated, laughing sarcastically. "Because I don't see one."
"Why are you being like this?" Violet asked after a moment, giving both herself and Sirius a moment to cool off. Sirius ran a hand through his wavy hair and sighed.
"'Lette, Bella wants to kill me. Cissy is marrying herself to that seventh year Syltherin, Malfoy, who bullied me in first year. Regulus and I barely talk anymore, let alone see each other, and Andromeda up and left, so I can't even turn to her." Sirius frowned and looked down at the floor. "My own mother can't say my name without spite, and every time my father says it, he makes this face, like it leaves a bad taste on his tongue. I've been burnt off the family tree, I've been disowned, and I've been living with my best friend and his parents, who are divorced." His grey eyes seemed to cloud as he chuckled darkly. "I don't really have the best experiences with family."
Violet looked at him for a moment, and slowly, she came up to him and wrapped her arms around his waist, pressing her forehead against his chest. "Sirius, I'm so sorry."
"It's okay." He muttered, affectionately stroking her hair. "But, Violet…"
"Yes?" She parted from him and looked up, her chocolate eyes making contact with his own, and she suddenly saw how weary and drained and worn and just absolutely exhausted he looked.
"I'm never going to be able to give you that." He mumbled, his voice strained with ache, and Violet's eyes widened.
"I mean," he kissed her forehead and spoke into it, his lips brushing against the skin there, "I'm never going to get married. I'm never going to have kids, or grandkids, or the…the kind of lifestyle you want." He breathed in her scent, the one that had grown so familiar to him, and exhaled. "I'm not going to school after this, and I'm not going to run from Voldemort - yes, I said his name, Voldemort. I'm going to fight. And I don't want any regrets, anything that might hold me back from doing all I can to stop this war."
"So, what you're trying to say is…" Violet muttered, her lip trembling slightly as water pooled in the corners of her eyes. Sirius grabbed her chin between his finger and thumb and lifted it, so she looked in his eyes.
"Hey," He spoke softly, barely audible over her small sniffles, and he pressed his lips to her own, probably the last kiss he would ever give her, Sirius thought sadly. "I still love you, 'Lette. I think I'm always gonna love you a little bit." He laughed quietly, for she looked so sad, yet there was still an undeniable beauty about her.
"S-So, I'm just supposed to, find someone else, get married to him, have a family with him, and be as happy with him, a-as I am with…with you, and have been with you, for the past few months?" Sirius stayed quiet, and Violet shakily shook her head, pulling herself away from his embrace.
"Well, Sirius, if you've made up your choice." She gave him a watery laugh and muttered the password to the fat lady, who opened the portrait hole silently, granting her access. "I suppose, I can't do anything to change it then, can I?" It was a statement, not a question.
Sirius stared at the ground ashamedly. "I'm sorry." He breathed, and she merely shook her head once more, the portrait hole closing behind her.
"Always open and looking for services!"
Services? What did that mean? People to partake in the play? But why would McGonagall want me to be in a play…?
And the bird, what did that mean? The fire on the border? Was it just design, or perhaps it was a symbol?
"Merlin," I cried out in frustration, throwing the paper down on the bed in front me and staring at it. The dorm was empty, and I sat on my bed, the flyer in front of me, where it looked up at me, almost mockingly.
"I swear, McGonagall's become crazier than Dumbledore…" I muttered under my breath, and suddenly, the paper in front of me seemed to glow a bright red. As soon as the weird gesture happened, however, it had stopped, and I was left staring at it, my hand reaching for my wand in self-defense.
I waited a minute, and nothing happened. What was going on? I poked my wand on the paper, but still, it did not give.
What the hell?
I racked my brain to think of the cause, but the only thing I could come up with was the sentence I had just said.
"I swear," I started slowly, carefully eyeing the paper on my bed, "McGonagall's become crazier than Dumbledore." And then again, the paper lit up a glowing red, and vanished. My heart skipped a beat, and excitement swelled up inside my chest.
I knew McGonagall would never just give me this for no reason. I tried to single out one word, the key word, which had caused the light to glow.
"Er…crazier." My bed creaked under me, but other than that, nothing happened to the slip in front of me. My eyes suddenly shone in realization.
"Dumbledore!" I shouted, and the paper sparked for another few seconds before going out again.
"Dumbledore," the light went off, and this time, I noticed that most of the letters in the words, Remolded Maubry's, were lighting up. I counted the letters, quickly summoned a quill and parchment, and began scribbling down on it.
Remolded Maubry's I quickly scrawled down, also writing down the word, Dumbledore next to it. Dumbledore, Remolded Maubry's…Dumbledore, Remolded Maubry's…
I said, "Dumbledore!" aloud once again, and wrote down the letters that were glowing amidst the words. R…E…O…L…D…E…D…M…U…B…S…those were the only letters out of the two words that were lighting up, and I examined them.
R… E… O… L… D… E… D… M… U… B… S. Dumbledore. They were the same letters, minus the s.
A hidden message!
The last four letters – M…A…R…Y…
"Mary?" I tried out loud. No response. I reordered them.
"Army?" I said weakly, and the four letters lit up. A smile grew on my face.
"Dumbledore! Army!" And the letters all lit up, minus the S, so, in an epiphany of sorts, I cried out in understanding, "Dumbledore's army! Dumbledore's army!"
Suddenly, the paper erupted into sparks, and the words floated from the paper and into the air in front of me, reforming to read, Dumbledore's army, until they sank back onto the paper, in this new combination.
The bird, previously still, flapped it's great, long wings and the fire from the border seemed to envelope it. I stared at it dumbly, amazed, as the bird seemed to absorb the fire, creating a phoenix. The paper emitted an orangey glow, much like an ember, and the words, "Always open and looking for services!" suddenly made sense.
Something from the back of the page seemed to be burning through to the front, and I flipped the paper over, only to see a list. A list of names.
Alice Prewett. Weird, that was her handwriting…
Sirius Black. That was Sirius' handwriting, too…
Emmeline Vance. A Ravenclaw in my year.
Edgar Bones. A Hufflepuff who graduated just two years ahead of me.
James Potter. I would recognize that signature anywhere.
And then, at the bottom of the page, there was one blank spot opened, one which I could only guess was for me, and without a second thought, a new name had joined the others on the list of the recruits.
I quickly grabbed my coat – although June was just around the corner, the nighttime was still chilly – tucked the flyer into my pocket, and ran to join James, who was already waiting by the door to the Gryffindor common room with Sirius, Remus, Peter, Alice, and Frank near him.
"Couldn't have taken any longer…" Frank whispered jokingly, only to be hushed by the rest of the group.
"Quiet, Frank!" Alice said as Peter muttered the password to the Fat Lady, who swung open the door almost immediately. "We don't want to get caught sneaking out past midnight on a weekday."
"We're meeting Dumbledore, though." I said as James took my hand, and quietly, the lot of us crept down one of the long hallways, taking a turn once we reached the end of it.
"Who knows if we're meeting Dumbledore?" Remus said, rubbing his arms for warmth. "McGonagall gave us this sheet of paper, and for all we know, she could just be trying to catch us and figure out how we always sneak out."
"Oh, come off it, Moony. I trust Dumbledore, no matter how crazy he is. McGonagall, too." James added as an afterthought, and we started to climb down several flights of staircases, until, finally, we reached the enterance way to the castle.
A short, silent walk later, we were outside the castle barriers, and Sirius turned to us. "Okay, I sent Bones an owl the other day, and he said that Remolded Maubry's is just outside of London. I say we all apparate to Bricket Wood, and then it should be just half a kilometer walk from the old house on Dagger Lane. Sound alright?" We all agreed, and soon, I was imagining the creepy old house in my mind – a wind rushed past my face, a tugging sensation pulled from behind my naval, and then, I was standing there, Remus and Alice by my side.
We waited for the others to arrive, joked around about how one time Brennan Smite claimed to have traveled into the scary house just to impress Alice (who was not impressed, needless to say), and then began walking down the street, a few side streets, and were standing in front of a rundown, old theatre entrance.
"It looks closed." Peter said, and James stepped forward and racked his knuckles on the door.
"Oi, anybody in there?" he called, and as he knocked for a third time, the door drifted open. He grinned. "Brilliant. It's unlocked." He stepped back. "Shall we?"
"I think we shall, Prongs." Sirius said, and he walked forward into the darkness, only whipping out his wand to mutter, "Lumos", causing it to light up. James walked forward next, pulling me with him, and I pressed my feet harder against the ground in retaliation.
"I am not going in there." I blatantly stated, knowing far too well what could be lurking in the shadows of a spooky, seemingly abandoned building at nighttime.
"Oh, come on, Lily." Alice said, pushing my back, and then I was stumbling into James, and he took the opportunity to grab me and drag me in with him, his own wand illuminated.
I glared at him from under my red hair, huffed, and pulled out my own wand, saying the spell as well. The room was filled with a light, bluish glow as the seven of us walked through what must have, at some point, the main room, and Sirius headed directly to the door which surely led to the theater itself, and pressed his ear against it.
"There are people in there." He muttered under his breath, and James stepped forward to listen, too.
"Let's go, then, Padfoot." James, giving his friend a final smirk, made a grab for the handle, turning it and opening it. I gulped, gave a nervous glance at Frank, who was staring forward with pure determination, and followed in after them.
"Children?" Screeched a voice I seemed to recognize from somewhere, and I gazed upon the scene in front of me with interest. Wizards, old, middle-aged, young (though we were, by far, the youngest there), turned to stare at us as we burst through the door. Of the many heads turned, I noticed Slughorn, Dumbledore, and McGonagall among them.
"Alas," Dumbledore said, rising, his cheeks rosy as he beamed at us. "The wizards and witches I recruited under my name."
James stepped forward. "James Potter, Minister." James said, nodding respectfully to the man who was on the stage.
Minister?That's why the voice sounded familiar. The man on the stage; he was the Minister of Magic. I gazed at him – older, shorter, plumper, and with a fine, grey mustache and matching hair (though it seemed to be receding).
"Frank Longbottom." Frank announced, stepping forward. Sirius followed.
"Sirius Black." He said proudly, and a middle-aged witch with a long, velvet hat gasped.
"A Black? You brought a Black here? Albus, he's going to go run to his family now and ruin the entire organization!" She yelled, and from the stage, the Minister still fumed.
"Children, Albus? Children?" He cried. "We send you out on a message to recruit new people into the order, and you bring us children?"
Dumbledore just smiled up at him. "Yes, I do believe that is what I did."
"Excuse me," McGonagall said, standing up and placing her hands on her hips, glaring at the Minister. "I do not mean to disrespect you, Minister, but are you telling me you doubt Albus' judgment?"
The witches and wizards turned from us to the Minister, who was pulling at his collar. "N-No, of course not, Minerva." He said while coughing awkwardly. "I'm merely saying that they cannot, er, rather should not, be here, for they're still young, and – "
"We're all off age!" Alice proclaimed loudly, and we all nodded in agreement.
"Yes, and as legal adults, I do believe we have the given human right to make our own decisions regarding our life." Remus added, and I raised my hand.
Everyone slowly turned to me, and the Minister, still tugging at his collar nervously, said, "Um, Yes, Miss, ahh…?"
"Evans. Lily Evans." I finished for him, before speaking. "May I ask, before we go jumping into things, what exactly is this?"
"Miss Evans, always practical." Dumbledore smiled at me fondly and addressed us, as well as the rest of the people there. "This meeting is just one of the many that this organization has had in the past, and will continue to have in the future. We are the Order of the Phoenix, and we are a secret society that is fighting, ever day, against Tom Riddle."
"Tom Riddle?" James inquired, his eyebrow perking up. Dumbledore nodded.
"Yes. You may now know him as, Lord Voldemort, but that is merely his stage name." He said with a joking smile, and a few of us chuckled at the pun, though there was nothing funny about the Dark Lord, or the situation we were currently in.
"So, we've all been selected," Remus said slowly, as if unsure, "To be recruited into this…organization?"
"Once you graduate, of course." McGonagall said quickly, brushing a piece of hair out of her face. "And only if you wish, for if you don't, we will simply perform an Obliviate charm and you will have no recollection of this at all." She added.
"Of course we're all joining!" I said suddenly, the excitement at the realization of what was going on overtaking me. "If you're making an army, I want to fight!"
James' hand, squeezed tightly around mine in pride, and Dumbledore and McGonagall smiled as everyone nodded in agreement. The Minister, who had stayed silent for a few moments, sighed, and said, "Very well. Please take a seat."
And so we did.
And so, our futures began.
I finished folding my last shirt, and slowly, placed it in my trunk, on top of James' grey sweatshirt that still, somehow smelt like him; I laughed to myself, realizing I had kept it far much longer than I should have, and that, really, I never had any intention of giving it back to him. I whipped out my wand and fastened it shut, placed the piece of wood on the shelf next to my bed, and sat down on my bed, looking around at the empty dorm.
"Oh, I never knew this thing would be so heavy!" Violet said as she hoisted her own trunk onto her bed, sighing in relief when she finally let go of it. Alice, her hands on her hips as she stood in the doorway of the room, smiled.
"Who ever knew we'd be saying good bye to this place so quickly." She softly stroked a piece of her hair behind her ear and smoothed out the blue blouse she was wearing, her white, ruffled skirt swishing as she hopped onto her own bed. Macy came dancing out of the bathroom, humming happily.
"The graduation ceremony is in only an hour." She said, sighing and twirling in her pink, pleated dress and sitting on Alice's bed, next to her. "I can't believe it – our lives are finally beginning."
"Or finally ending." I mumbled sadly, and I only noticed that I was tearing up when a teardrop slid off of my nose and onto my pale yellow sundress. Violet ran over to my bed and jumped on it, hugging me, and only then did I notice that she seemed to be sniffling, too.
"Oh, Lily." Macy and Alice came onto my bed, and they, too, began crying, and we sat there, hugging and sobbing and whispering bidding words to each other, laughing, despite our tears, and crying, despite our happiness.
It was the end. Our last day here. In three hours, I would be on a train with them, leaving Hogwarts forever, and never coming back. The thought made more tears come to my eyes.
"I love you guys so much." Macy sputtered out sadly, and we all laughed and told her the same and hugged for so long that it took Jillian Thorton knocking on our door nearly a half hour later to stop us.
"I'm sorry for, er, interrupting," She said awkwardly, fidgeting uncomfortably in her red and black skirt and blouse, "But I was wondering if any of you knew when we were supposed to be down in the courtyard for the ceremony?"
"Oh, no, not at all." Violet rubbed her tear stained cheeks and stood up, brushing off her navy blue, tight, off the shoulder shirt and black, cropped Bermuda shorts. "Twenty minutes before the ceremony so we can get our robes and seating assignments."
"Oh," Jillian checked her watch, and looked back up at us. "I suppose I'll head there now then. Thank you."
Her eyes cast over mine, and she offered me a small smile, and I smiled back.
"Get over here, Jillian." I said, opening one of my arms for her to come to, and she laughed and joined our group hug for a few moments.
"I'll miss you guys," she said honestly while we all parted, and Alice offered her a friendly smile.
"We'll miss you, too. Even though you've picked rows with every single one of us before and have stolen both Lily and Violet's boyfriends." Instead of being mad at Alice's outburst, Jillian blushed and looked down, biting her lip.
"Yeah, erm…Sorry about that."
"All is forgiven." Violet threw an arm around her shoulder, and I threw one around her waist, and Alice and Macy joined us on either side as we all walked towards the Great Hall together.
Once we arrived, I was pleased to see almost every single seventh year there already – Snape, who I made unnecessary eye contact with, and who I chose to smile at, because the mood was just right, and I knew I would never see him again. Justin Weiss, who was waving at Jonathan and Marissa as they walked over to him, and they who, upon seeing us, gave us all a friendly wave. Vivian Gallid, the girl we had started the unfortunate rumor about that James had gotten pregnant at the beginning of the year, and Amos Diggory, the cute Hufflepuff that Violet had gone to the winter ball with in December. Tom Jordan, the Ravenclaw quidditch announcer, called Alice's name, and she ran to hug him while I ran to hug Zachary Felton, the Gryffindor quidditch keeper in my year. Rob, who I spotted not too far away, hugged Olivia, another Hufflepuff girl in our year, and from over his shoulder, saw me and gave a light grin. I grinned back.
McGonagall called names from where a rack of black robes sat, and Dumbledore stood next to her, patting her back as she began tearing up when Remus and Sirius and Peter and James hugged her good bye.
I went up after them, and McGonagall, sporting teal dress robes, smiled sadly at me. "Lily." She said softly, and the Marauders stepped back and allowed me to go flying into her arms in a tight hug.
"Professor." I said with a watery voice, for tears were welling up in my own eyes again as she stroked my back, hugging me back with equally as much enthusiasm and sadness.
"You were always such a pleasure, Lily. I will miss seeing your bright, smiling face in class a great deal, you know." And I merely nodded and sniffled, until Dumbledore politely tapped my shoulder.
"Am I deserving of a hug of such nature?" He asked politely, his eyes twinkling, and I peeled my arms away from McGonagall and wrapped them around the man, who stroked my red hair softly.
"Lily Evans. Brightest in her year, adored by all, and Head Girl." He paused, and then I could simply hear the smile in his voice as he said, "You should be so proud of yourself. I know I am."
And then I pulled back, smiled up at him, and said, "Thank you, Professor."
"Now, I know that this is business of which does not concern me," He said, his voice lowering to a whisper, "But I do believe your boyfriend is waiting for you."
I looked to my left, where a little while away, James stood, his hands in his black trouser pockets, white button down un-tucked, sleeves messily pushed up, and hair sticking up attractively and messily, as always.
"Thank you, sir." I said sheepishly, and I gave McGonagall one final smile before running over to James, who, as soon as I reached him, picked me up and spun me around and kissed me, all at the same time.
Cologne filled my nose, mint filled my mouth, and love filled my heart as we twirled, stupidly oblivious to the rest of the world, until finally, he set me down, and even still, his lips never left mine.
"I love you." I giggled, and he kissed me one more time, smiling.
"I love you too. Merlin, I'm never going to get tired of hearing you say that." He admitted coyly, his eyes closed, and my hands rested on the back of his neck while his own were fastened securely around my waist.
"Who'd have thought," I murmured amusedly, "That just several months ago, I would be in this very Great Hall, planning my next prank on you?" James chortled, and I continued, "And, that those short, seven years ago, when I had first met you on the train, and was plotting your death, that we'd be here now, friends, and dating?"
"We were never friends, Lily…" James said, his breath tickling my nose. "I had a crush on you from the first moment I saw you."
"And I hated you from the first moment I saw you." I confessed guiltily, and James laughed and pressed his forehead against mine.
"But brilliant, little eleven year old James knew that one day, you'd fall for him, just as hard as he had fallen for you."
"Of course he did." I pressed my lips to his once more, and this time, we took no shame in kissing, for everyone around us was too busy and too sad and too happy and too occupied to care about a silly couple kissing and giggling amidst an ocean of a hundred other students with a hundred different stories to tell.
The butterflies in my stomach were in full flutter as James whispered words of sweet nothing into my ears, and eventually, his lips formed a question against the skin there that made me think.
I knew what he meant – the question was greater and more significant and more meaningful than just those two words. After a moment, I said, "I don't know."
"What about the future?" he asked, pulling his head back to look down at me with his hazel eyes. Nine colors. I counted them again, and smiled when he childishly gave an innocent, "I'm scared."
"Don't be." I kissed him. "The future looks bright, James. And as long as I have you, and you have me, everything will be perfect."
His lips curved upwards in a smile, and he challenged me, just as always. "Well, let's just say that the future doesn't look bright. It doesn't look like anything – it's blank, and we get to make it. What then?"
I smiled, intertwined his hand with mine, and said. "That's a good question. I suppose…" And I started pulling him forward, for the graduation ceremony was about to begin, and so was our future together, and there was a grin on my lips as I finished with a blissful, "It's a mystery."
A/N Fin ~
Oh my goodness, it's finished. I don't even know what to do right now. I suppose I'll cry about it later, because right now, I'm smiling and eager to post this and change my status from "in progress" to "complete."
I'll start off with musical inspiration, of course.
Hazy – Rosi Golan ft. William Fitzsimmons. This was listened to when James and Lily share their moments, and Macy and Remus on the dance floor.
Kiss Me - Ed Sheeran. "I love you." Scene
Big Bird in a Small Cage – Patrick Watson. Beginning of the story and the lake scene. Great song.
And, finally, at the mushy, corny, cliché ending, Sigh No More – Mumford & Sons. This song is perfect, I think, for the end to this story. Look at the lyrics, listen to the song, and fall in love with it. Yes, that is a direct command.
Before I get yelled at, IM SORRY. I want Sirius and Violet to be happy together, but…I'm sorry. At least Macy and Remus are finally better though and they're happy! :D
And about the Dumbledore's army thing - if you pay attention, you'll notice that all the names on the list are of people from Hogwarts that Dumbledore, himself, recruited, at the courtesy of the Minister. They're a sort of subgroup of the order. This portion of the Order of the Phoenix is just the list of Dumbledore's recruits, not the whole order, so the fact that Harry had his own 'Dumbledore's army' in fifth year is merely a coincidence.
I started a Formspring account where I'll answer questions related to Fanfction, unlike my personal Formspring. Here I'll do requests for passages from this story or my other fanfictions in different POVs, or will answer questions you have. Go check it out! The link's on my profile.
One million thank you's to the lot of you that have read this, favorited it, alerted it, reviewed it, requested it to friends,, everything. I love and appreciate you guys so, so much, and could have never done this without you.
I've just posted my new story, "How to fall in love in 97 days". It'd mean a lot for you to check it out and leave me some feedback. Thank you! :D
Thank you all, so, so much.
I truly love you guys. :')
LOL for lots of love,